The Preparation


Get yourself a structured training plan. Don’t think that you can wing it by doing random runs two or three times a week. You can get a good training plan from running websites like Fetch Everyone and Runners World

A structured training plan will have a good mix of training runs and equally as important, rest periods. My own training plan includes;

  • Easy runs - Usually short distances at a slow pace. The pace should be one at which you are able to carry on a conversation.
  • Tempo runs - Done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster.
  • Intervals or speed work – These are sets of 2 –to 5 short bursts of flat out running over a specified distance, followed by recovery runs in between. Intervals will help increase your speed.
  • Long runs - The long run is the highest mileage run of any week in your training schedule. Most runners do their long runs on Saturdays or Sundays when they have more time. Try to increase your long run distance by 10% each time, this will help you avoid injury.

Remember to try to finish your training runs pleasantly tired, there’s no point going out hard every time.

  • Try and run some shorter races before your half-marathon to get used to running with other people and to test your running gear. Most cities and towns have a parkrun ( which is a free, timed 5k run which takes place every Saturday morning. Local running clubs also organise races throughout the year which are fairly cheap to enter. If you plan on entering a number of races it might be worth joining a club as membership of UK Athletics entitles you to cheaper race entry.
  • Sometimes running can be quite boring so motivating yourself to go out and pound the pavements can be difficult at times, particularly if it’s cold or wet. This can be made worse if you tend to run the same routes all the time. As long as it’s safe to do so why not change your route and get to know your area. To make my runs more interesting I play a game called Fetchpoint on the Fetcheveryone website. This involves collecting points by picking up coins and planting flowers when I run. Sounds a bit crazy? Investigate it and it’ll make more sense! You could also register on which allows you to compete against other athletes in your area by setting the best times for segments of your run.
  • Try running some of your long runs at the same time as the start of your race as it will get your body used to running at that time. For example if you are better runner at night but your race starts early in the morning, it’s a good idea to get your body used to running at that time.
  • Take it easy the week before the race, this is known as tapering. A couple of light jogs if you feel like it, but nothing too strenuous. I wouldn't run after Thursday for a Sunday race. If you need to feel that running buzz go and volunteer at your local parkrun!
  • Before I did the Bristol Half - my first ever - my running club had a group which ran the route of the last three miles. I think this made the actual finish a lot easier. The finish of the Bristol Half is notorious for winding around the city centre and going in and out like a drunken sewing machine. I expect a lot of city marathons are similar. If you run it before the race your brain won't be repeatedly thinking: "is it around round this corner... no, it must be round this corner... where the heck is the chuffing finish?"
  • Increase your carb intake on Friday and Saturday before the run (pasta is best), but don't overdo it. Also make sure you hydrate well the day before, water is the best fluid for hydration.

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